The next few posts will focus on one topic: Boundaries. Particularly, we will explore what they are, how to have them, and how to communicate them to others. Today’s post will discuss different types of boundaries and why they are useful.
Examples of boundaries can be found on maps. If you look at a map of the United States, you’ll notice many boundaries. There are lines indicating boundaries between the US and Canada as well as Mexico. There are boundaries around each state. If the map is very detailed, you might see boundaries between counties, cities, towns, or districts. Among other things, these lines, or boundaries, help us know who is responsible for what areas. They also let us know who is allowed to be in particular areas and who’s job it is to enforce that.
Similarly, our personal boundaries let us know where other people end and we begin. They also inform us who is responsible for what.
While there are many ways to describe boundaries, let’s look at two of the most common types: internal boundaries and external boundaries.
Internal boundaries govern how I relate to myself and what I allow to happen within my body, heart, and mind.
All of the things happening inside my skin are my responsibility. Meaning I have the ability to respond to them (think: response-ability). These include:
It is my job to decide how I will care for each of these areas of my life. The actions I take to do so are my boundaries. Let’s look at some internal boundary examples.
o for example, limiting my exposure to news or alarmist posts and articles on social media
o go to the bathroom or outside and breath
o make a phone call
o let the other person know I need a day before I respond
o i.e., choosing to put something upsetting on the back burner so I can focus on work
External boundaries govern how I interact and related to people places and things outside of me.
When considering external boundaries, it’s important to remember everyone has them. It is as important for me to respect other people’s boundaries as it is for me to ensure I uphold mine. One way to think of external boundaries is to imagine a hulahoop. I am the one who decides what comes inside or goes outside of my hulahoop. Other people are responsible for managing their hulahoops.
Types of external boundaries include:
Here are examples of external boundaries.
External and internal boundaries are important for having healthy relationships with ourselves and with other people. Boundaries help us define who we are and move toward our goals. Read the B.A.S.I.C.s of Boundaries to learn the foundational principles of having boundaries.
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